Happy Valentine’s Day! This picture pretty much sums up what I like about Valentine’s…romance, schmomance, bring on the prosecco & strawberries.
Whilst I don’t go in for Valentine’s Day in a big way at all (and avoid going out at all costs), I do like the quirky little gifts that pop up. Here’s some of my favourites (he’s my lobster!).
- Tickle my fancy socks
- Flower initial letter lights
- Mini message in a bottle
- Raspberry and mint gin
- The unicorns made me do it!
- A beautiful bouquet of beer
- Heart garland
- You light up my life candle
- You’re my lobster! Lobster biscuit that is…
As always, I love reading your comments and always appreciate them. What’s your favourite valentines pressie?
Well helllloooo, 2016! I know that absolutely everyone is going on about how fast 2015 went, but it really did fly by.
Just like last year, I’m not planning to make any new years resolutions (because I am useless at completing them), but I do like to have a few general aims.
Last year I planned to travel more (sort of did), keep my shizz together (much better at this), plan a wedding (getting there) and develop my blogging (done!). And actually, they are all things that I want to keep up on 2016 so I think I’m just going to keep rolling with it.
I didn’t get too far from home in 2015, but I did go to Scotland which was possibly my favourite holiday ever. We piled all our stuff into a tiny little mini and bombed around without really knowing where we were going to sleep.
Keep my shizz together
There were points where I got so much better at this (definitely compared to 2014!), but there is still more to do. I’ll keep trying!
Plan a wedding
We made progress on this and are on course for 2016 to be the year where this will happen. This time next year I’ll be a Mrs.
Develop my blogging
2015 was the year I discovered green beauty and in 2016, I plan on learning a lot more about it (working out the green from the green wash can be a tricky business). I also finally made the leap to go to real life events and meet other bloggers. Looks all lovely and easy when you’re reading about it on other blogs or social media, but this made me SO nervous at first. I’m really pleased that I took a deep breath and did it though as I have met some lovely new people and hope to go to many more in 2016.
Thank you to all the lovely people who have been welcoming to me at blog events, commented, emailed or just read my internet ramblings. I hope you have a fabulous 2016 – Happy New Year! 🙂
Look at me, doing yoga on that big rock, over looking that big lake.
Just kidding. I’ve never seen that rock before and I most certainly don’t make a habit of wobbling on one foot on big dangerous looking edges. But I really wish I did.
I have tried and tried and tried to master yoga, but I’m still a bit rubbish. There’s only so far that ‘trying’ can get you when you have quite impressive inflexibility. There are many of the basic things in yoga that I’m simply not very good at.
I think that’s exactly why I’m not very good at it. I tell myself I can’t do it, so I go into a class and confirm to myself that I’m not very good at it, have a little rush of “look at me, I’ve been to yoga” followed by a wave of “but I was rubbish at it”. That then sits in the back of my mind and wriggles away, putting me off going next time. Then I don’t go for a few weeks (or even months) and the overall effect is that I don’t get any better. The same cycle starts again.
I have been to countless yoga classes, so I must be keen on something (or maybe I’m just keen on yoga pants). That makes me think it’s worth the trying. In a class a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t hold downward dog for as long as every one else (it was an unreasonably long time to hold it if you ask me). My arms started to shudder and I was in a hot sweat as I applied my normal approach to exercise of forcing myself to keep going. Pain is good, right? Pain means it’s working. But then the teacher said “be kind to your body, don’t push it too far if it doesn’t feel right” *watches me wobbling about amidst a sea of serene yogis*. I dropped back down to child’s pose. Gotta love child’s pose. Child’s pose I can do.
Suddenly I was happier again. I held the pose for long enough to push myself, but not so long that I started to really hate yoga. I enjoyed the rest of the class. So, given that this month is National Yoga Month, I have decided to take up a 30 day yoga challenge with my new found philosophy of not forcing anything if it feels like it’s too much. I will give things a go and if I can’t do them or I can’t hold the pose for that long, then that’s fine. This is reigning my brain in to try no pressure yoga. I’ll be wobbling about on that rock in no time…
As always, I love your comments and always appreciate them.:)
Photo credit (I can only wish it was my photo…) https://unsplash.com/juliacaesar
I love this book. I’ll just put the summary of this review out there early in case you’re tight on time today. You are welcome.
Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch is a fun, interesting read following a policeman in London who gets a promotion to become a trainee wizard. It all starts when Peter (our lead) is guarding Covent Garden after someone knocked someone else’s head off and then legged it. Lucky for Peter, a ghost turns up and gives him a tip off. To be honest, that start pretty much gives you the main premise of the book.
The story progresses as Peter begins his wizard training and has to mediate between rivals groups of Thames tributaries (which are personified by real life people), all the while investigating the whole ‘knocking people’s heads off’ crime which rumbles on throughout.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it might be natural to compare this to a grown up version of Harry Potter (which I also LOVE), but it’s a lot more subtle than that. Instead of there being a whole secret magical world, this is more focused on two guys in a big house in London. Instead of the intricate magical sub stories of Potter, there’s mere suggestions of many of the other magical creatures out there. There’s a lot less wand waving and a lot more summoning little balls of light and doing paperwork. Whilst there is a distinct intertwining of the supernatural and the normal world, it adds more interest to the crime story rather than giving the crime story it’s whole purpose.
That subtlety can get a bit annoying and at times I really didn’t have a clue what was going on. Looking back, some things never really get explained, but I infinitely prefer that to books that lay it all out there and explain their own subtleties in intricate detail. Don’t patronise me, I want a book that makes me work for it.
As much as I felt confused, I never lost interest in the story. Ben Aaronovitch is a witty writer and the humour made me laugh out loud at times. It’s a light, funny book if you feel like a bit of a magical (slightly violent) adventure.
As always, I love reading your comments and always appreciate them. Have you read this book? What are you reading at the moment?
I need to tell you something. I am a stalker. I’ve stalked The White Company Seychelles candle for years. I can’t go past a White Company without getting twitchy if I don’t go in to have a little smell of it. I feel better for sharing this.
Happily, I have very lovely friends who bought me my very own Seychelles candle for my birthday and I no longer need to leave the house to get my fix. This does not disappoint me. If you haven’t smelt it, I urge you to go to The White Company immediately to find out what I’m on about.
Read the rest of this post first.
The Seychelles candle smells like summer. Like the kind of luxury summer holidays I never go on (aka a trip to the Seychelles) but if you want to get all serious about it, it’s scented with bergamot, amber and vanilla. The White Company describe this as:
“Like a warm Indian ocean breeze, soothing Seychelles is an evocative blend with notes of rich amber, fresh bergamot and bright orange, warmed by notes of exotic coconut, vanilla and almond”.
Yep, they nailed it, that is what it smells like. Couldn’t say it better myself. What I can add is that this candle smells lovely, rich and relaxing with a good fragrance throw that has no problems scenting the whole room quite quickly. It’s not too sweet or sickly and yet still reminds me of a pina colada (love a pina colada).
One thing that I love about this candle is the even burn. It’s really annoying when you end up with half your candle still clinging to the top of the glass when your wick is doing it’s thing at the bottom of the glass, but this one burns evenly all the way down the glass. You get your waxy money’s worth.
Overall, in case you hadn’t guessed, I thoroughly love everything about this candle. As you might expect from The White Company, this isn’t a bargain candle, but it is totally worth the £20, especially if you aren’t jetting off to the Seychelles any time soon.
As always, I love reading your comments and they are always appreciated. Do you stalk inanimate objects in shops? Or do you have a favourite candle scent?
Do you ever get the feeling that there’s not enough time in the day?
Of course you do. Everybody does. Everybody who has access to the internet, gets sucked into it’s pointy, endless, wonderfulness and ends up staring at gifs for hours (I totally don’t do that), generally experiences a time crush at one point or another. Even if you manage to avoid getting sucked into the internet (HOW?!?!), odds are that at some point you feel like you have too much on your plate, or you should hurry up doing what you’re doing, so you can get to doing the next thing you need to be doing.
Feeling overwhelmed with ‘stuff’ to do seems to be totally normal in the modern world. I quite often think that I need to take a week off work to catch up on things and then at the end of that week I wonder why I haven’t done everything I set out to do. I feel a constant need to cram more mini accomplishments into the day, but instead giving myself a mini high five that I’ve done some, I clip myself around the ear for the ones I didn’t do.
The reason is probably because if I counted up the hours that I have on my (extra big, ‘got a week off work’) to do list, versus the hours I’ll actually be alive in that week, I will find that I literally don’t have enough hours in the day. The answer is simple. I try to do too much. All the time. Then I fail.
Right now, I’m thinking about how I should really be planning for my wedding, or replying to messages, or hanging up laundry or any of the other things that are on my list. I’m thinking this, even though I’ve spent today photographing and writing blog posts for the next week, which was a lot of work. My blog posts have been scarce lately because I’ve been trying to keep up with other areas in my life, which gave me nagging guilt, so getting posts scheduled is a big achievement for me. Does my brain focus on that?
No, my brain doesn’t have enough time to stop and think “Well done woman, good work today, we’re set for the week”. Instead, it’s too busy thinking “Hang your laundry up to dry. Hang it up. It’s important. Hang it up immediately. NOW. Ooooppp no….no, too late. Now your laundry smells all fusty. Nice one. NICE ONE.” Christ. Chill out brain.
I’ve written about this before in my work life balance post and at that point, I thought it was caused by working 60 – 70 hours a week in my office job, but I’ve realised since then that feeling overwhelmed doesn’t just have to be caused by one big thing dominating your time. The amount of time we have isn’t going to change, I know I’ll just replace it by something else I could (or think I should) do.
Solutions I have previously considered to this problem are:
– Hire a housekeeper (that I can’t afford) and free up all that time spent running the home. This solution essentially sees me going to work purely to pay someone else to go to my house.
– Eat the same food every day to free up all that pesky food planning, shopping and cooking time. Risk of nutritional deficiency is quite high, as is the danger I’ll eventually live solely on cheese.
– Give up sleep. It worries me how many times I’ve had a really busy week, trying to do long hours at work and a dozen other things on top of it and my brain genuinely gives me “we just won’t sleep” as the solution. Risk of untimely demise too high as a long term solution.
The actual solution is probably much more simplistic, but far less acceptable to our egos. I also think it’s much more difficult than frantically chasing your to do list around the house.
Do less stuff and don’t feel bad about it.
Have little think about what you’re doing all day, why you’re doing it and whether you actually need to do it. Then do less of the stuff you don’t need to and don’t tell yourself you’re failing because of it. In fact, I should try to enjoy it. For example, do I need to sit around and scroll through Instagram so many times a day? Do I need to beat myself up if my bedroom goes 10 days without being cleaned? Does it even matter if I write fewer blog posts? No. No one is dying, in the great big scheme of things, it really doesn’t make a difference. When I look back over the past 10 years, do I actually remember whether I got all those little things done? Nope. But I do remember some of the times I ended up sobbing at my desk because I felt paralysed by the amount I needed to do. I have no recollection of the exact things I was so worked up about. Turns out, in the long run, they really weren’t important.
I know I’ll find doing this really hard. In fact, as I was writing the paragraph above, I started writing alternative things I could do with the time I’d save (listening to my mindfulness app more when I would have been scrolling through instagram really isn’t the point here brain. Once again, chill out). I know I’ll struggle and feel that constant need to achieve, but I’m going to give it a go.
As always, I love reading your comments and always appreciate them. Do you ever feel like there’s too much to do in the day? What do you think is the best way to handle it? If you could only do one thing today, what would still be important?
Photo credit: Luis Llerena
For our summer holiday this year, we decided that sunshine and relaxing on beaches is overrated (just joking, that’s never overrated) but that we wanted to drive around and camp in Scotland instead. In classic ‘we’re on holiday’ style, we got over excited and attempted to see as much as humanly possible, which in beautiful Scotland, turns out to be quite a lot. We squeezed in a weekend in Edinburgh, eating haggis, camping on an uninhabited island, drinking whisky, climbing a snow topped Ben Nevis, eating (and mispronoucing) cranachan, pitching up next to the most turquoise water I’ve ever seen, eating porridge, buying tweed and pitching a tent on a clifftop in a gale. It’s a peaceful place, the variety of scenery is phenomenal, the people are lovely and the food and drink are delicious. As Scotland is far more beautiful than I remembered, only pictures can really do it justice. Don’t you go panicking, I’ve deleted all the ‘just crawled out my sleeping bag after a night being woken up by curious sheep’ photos.
Scotland – you are very bloody lovely and cannot wait to come back and intrigue your wildlife with our tent soon.
Don’t forget that I always love hearing from you! do you have the same (near obsessive) love for Scotland as I do? Where’s the most beautiful place you’ve visited?
You may have noticed that I’ve been a tiny bit absent lately, but I promise it was for a very good reason. In November last year, I bit the bullet and agreed to take part in the Superhuman Games. The Superhuman games are designed for strong, athletic and competitive people to get together and have a massive fitness competition whilst strutting around feeling like tough guys (and girls). And if you know me, you’d know I am neither strong, athletic nor competitive so this is not my natural environment. Let 8 months of nerves commence. The thought of spending a day competing with actual Superhuman type people scared me enough into doing some decent training during that time, which was good for my fitness but bad for having the time to devote to blogging.
Training for the Superhuman Games was a total (terrifying) fitness challenge, which involved weight lifting, cardio and endurance training. It was a full day event, made up of five 20 minute events across the day which you compete in pairs…lucky for me I was competing with one of those Superhuman people who patiently got me through it. If you need any personal training in Bristol, I highly recommend Jenny’s Fitness, that woman is a motivational powerhouse.
First up was VO2 Max. 10 minutes rowing 300m as fast as you can whilst your partner sprints a 150m shuttle run, then you swap for another 10 minutes. Our first event for the day and the one that gave me an inkling that I might have got myself into a bit of pickle. This is an almost literal illustration of what happened when I walked away from that rower.
Next up was Unconventional Beast…
…5 minutes of carrying two 25kg buckets up and down the field, alternating with dragging a 15kg plate up and down a field. Ouch.
The last event before lunch was Brutal Beat Down, which involved flipping a 150kg tyre 5 times with your partner then 10 chest to floor burpees jumping over a box in between. Holy moly, this may have been the longest 20 minutes of my life. I mostly lay on the floor after this and tried to stop my body going in to panic.
Straight after lunch was the assault course (I ate light). This involved as many laps as possible of a 400m assault course with 15 obstacles. I seem to remember this being a bit like this…
The final challenge featured my arch nemesis during training; deadlifts. Urgh. It made me feel like this…
Strength and Honour involved 5 reps of 65kg deadlifts alternating with hitting a tyre up and down a field with a sledge hammer. This one was an almost complete disaster because I could not, for love nor money, get that 65kg of concrete off the ground until I twigged that in fact my gloves rendered me unable to do a deadlift and I was back in the game as soon as I took them off.
I survived! And by the end of the day, there is only one woman who can express how I felt.
Yes Liz Lemon, months of training and lot of deadlift related fear all over! As much as I spent the day in a nervous daze, when I look back on it I really did enjoy it. It improved my strength, fitness and confidence in the gym and I got myself a medal (totally worth it for a medal).
Now that I’ve got my strength up, my next goal is to deal with my quite impressive lack of flexibility…
Have you ever seen Happy?
The documentary travels around the world exploring what people thinks makes them happy and trying to answer what actually leads to happiness.
Part of the documentary is about how common it is to chase extrinsic goals like money, image and status for happiness. Whilst having enough money to meet your basic needs is important, the documentary suggests that people are looking in all the wrong places to find contentment. When I saw the list, I instantly thought about blogging and how it SO easy to get fixated on all the things that can take all the fun out of it.
Money – It’s a perfectly valid goal to want to earn money from your hobby and doing something you’re passionate about could lead to a hugely fulfilling career. Focusing on money does have it’s dangers though. Risk: I’ll just build huge blog following, make loads of money from it, give up my office job and spend all day drinking coffee then instagramming it for everyone to see. Excellent plan. Mood killer: “Well this is harder than I thought/I’m sure everyone else is earning loads of money/I’m a FAILURE”.
Image – Devoting care and attention to your blog develops it’s quality no end and can create something you’re really proud of. However, in the age of ‘nothing is real unless I instagram it’, this can be a bit addictive. Risk: Better take another 50 selfies because my right eye looks a little weird today. Don’t want anyone thinking I have a slightly weird right eye. One of the 50 will probably turn out fine. Mood killer: “NOPE – I’M HIDEOUS.”
Status – There’s a happy thrill knowing that people have read what you’ve written or are interested in your tweets. But how many followers will actually make you happy? How many is enough? Risk: The eternal ‘more followers’ cycle. How many followers do I have this morning? Hmm, would like more. *more people follow* How many followers do I have this morning? Hmm, would like more. *more people follow* How many followers do I have this morning? Hmm, would like more. Mood killer: “WHY DOES NO-ONE LOVE ME?”
Building a business, carefully developing your style and having a strategy are all shrewd things to do to achieve your goals, but the danger is that it is easy to have an insatiable appetite for all of these things, meaning that every achievement may never be enough.
The Happy potential of blogging
The documentary suggests that happiness lies in shifting focus onto intrinsic goals, where blogging has equally high potential to fill you with the joys of spring.
Personal growth – pursuing your hobby, learning new things, writing about what you enjoy, building relationships with others, growing a sense of achievement; blogging has lots of benefits I hadn’t realised before I started. Just plucking up the courage to hit publish for the first time was a scary business and seemed like an achievement in itself. This blog has grown and changed a huge amount since I started and has gone in a direction that I never predicted. It gives me a focus and I get a little thrill out of completing a little project every time I publish a post.
Relationships – I’m naturally reserved, so I used to find it utterly bizarre to think that you would talk to complete strangers on the internet. Then, I slowly got my head around the fact that this is actually one of the best bits of blogging. You get to talk to people who are interested in the same things as you, or who give you ideas because they are completely different, or who are experts in something you really want to learn about. I used to be scared of getting horrible comments or tweets (actually still am), but happily the vast majority of people who I’ve spoken to have been lovely.
Helping others – I initially struggled to think of how blogging can allow you to help others, but I think you can share the love through regular, small acts. This could be about sharing causes you’re passionate about, giving free advice to someone who needs it or sending a message to someone who’s having a bad day. I could definitely do more of this in the bloggy world.
Here’s a clip of the documentary which is on Netflix…it’s a really good watch if you haven’t seen it already.
Photo credit to Jessica Polar
Bristol’s secret, ‘wander past them everyday and never know they’re there’ bars are pretty much the worst kept secret around, but people seem to get very over excited about a bar that makes you do a little work to earn your mojito. If, like me, you have a soft spot for a good cocktail and are ever in need of things to do in Bristol, try tracking these places down. Even with the address, these unmarked ‘knock on the door’ bars still aren’t that easy to find.
Hyde & Co
I still remember the first moment my friend explained to me how her night out had ended up in Hyde and Co (after several failed attempts to get in and a mysterious phone call summoning them back). I found the whole idea of secret bars intimidating (‘what if they won’t let me in? THE REJECTION!’) and exciting (‘I can pretend I’m actually in Gatsby…’). Hyde and Co is a low lit warren of little rooms, housing the prohibition style bar and a decent collection of taxidermy/Victorian memorabilia. The cocktail menu is extensive and the price list is exactly what you expect of a specialist bar – eye watering, but such good quality you won’t need too many drinks. Clue: Look for the bowler hat.
2 The Basement, Upper Byron Place, Bristol, BS8 1JY (hyde&co)
The Milk Thistle
The size and central location of The Milk Thistle and Hyde & Co probably make them the most famous secret Bristol bars (so to speak!).
The Milk Thistle is like stepping into a 1920’s four storey townhouse right in the centre of Bristol. Inside, you’ll find a large, prohibition style bar – think wood panelling, table service and plenty of Victorian trinkets. They also hold private functions and weddings here – how cool would that be!? Clue: Look for the black door…
Quay Head House, Colston Avenue, Bristol BS1 1EB (milkthistle)
The sexy one! Sexy in a 50’s pin up sort of way, nothing seedy (ignoring the red neon ‘sex’ sign). Once you’ve called them on the pay phone outside to be given entry, the bar you’ll find yourself in has a 50’s vibe throughout. This bar is also linked to Weber and Trings, the small but mighty liqueur shop on Christmas Steps which has everything you could need to make the most random cocktail. Clue: why’s there a pay phone in a doorway anyway?
No.1 Unity Street, Bristol, BS1 5HH (redlight)
My personal favourite. A small, intimate, Berlin style cocktail bar with very helpful and attentive bar tenders. It’s so small in fact, that they hit capacity really easily. There’s no standing room, so if you can’t get a seat, you’re not getting in, but on the plus side, if you’re already in, there’s no jossling at the bar or pushing through the crowd. Slightly out of the way of other bars but totally worth it. The bar tenders here really go out of their way to help you discover the drinks you’ll love. They even swap your drink into an icy cold new glass if they think you’ve had it long enough for it to warm up. Can’t argue with that. Clue: be brave, head down the steps.
52 Upper Belgrave Road, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 2XP (hausbar.co.uk)
There are plenty of benefits of knitting. I’ve knitted for quite a while, but for a long time I never actually knitted stuff. I knitted a scarf once, but largely I’d just knit squares, then undo it all and start again. I just like to sit about knitting, it relaxes me.
I’ve seen quite a few articles over the last few years about the meditative nature of knitting which might explain it. I like straightforward, scientific type meditation like the Headspace app and totally understand how the repeated actions of knitting do the same thing to slow you down and chill you out. The British Journal of Occupational Therapy found that regular knitting can boost wellbeing and happiness and research from the University College London also suggested repetitive movements can distract the mind and boost mental health.
Most of the time, we tend to live a lot in our heads, thinking about what’s happened that day, what we have to do, or what’s on the screen in front of us. It’s takes effort to think about how our bodies feel unless it slaps us in the face, usually with something uncomfortable like hunger or pain. Slowing down to think about something other than what’s whirling about in your head is remarkably hard to do. Sitting down to knit two, purl two takes just the right amount of concentration to take my mind off it’s little hamster wheel of worry/anxiety/dread.
Plus, I recently managed to turn that practice into knitting an ACTUAL THING. A hat thing to be exact. A little rough around the edges, but it’s green, it’s warm, it’s awesome.
My Valentine’s Day plans never really change and usually they revolve around food and films (two of my favourite things). If you’re in the gift giving mood, I’ve rounded up some of the things that would make nice pressies. I’m not saying they have to be for anyone other than you, quite frankly that mug would be enough for me…
1. Maraschino cherry liqueur – £21. Random booze always goes down a storm in our house.
2. Rebecca Minkoff bag (on sale!) – £120
3. Teeny tiny little love notes in a teeny tiny little jar – £10
4. A beard grooming kit for keeping beards lovely – £25
5. Black heart jumper, just in case you want to send a subtle message about all the pink and gooey stuff – £20
6. Hang your heart on the wall – £4.71
7. Perfect perfume for Valentine’s Day, Jo Malone Peony and Blush Suede – £82.
8. At last, a mug that gets me – £10.77
A few months ago, I watched a TED Talk all about posture. The speaker was social psychologist Amy Cuddy who talked about confidence building and the impact that your body language can have on you. Nothing new there. But a few months later, I’ve still been thinking about it and noticing how true it is for me (not in a good way!).
There’s a big difference between powerful body language and how some people (particularly women) tend make themselves smaller in order to protect themselves. I know that I do this a lot. It’s not always conciously, sometimes my arms are crossed because I’m just plain cold. Sometimes, I’ve put on a top that is actually quite a bit smaller than I remembered and I’m desperately trying to conceal what I strongly suspect is my bra showing through. But most of the time, it’s just my natural reaction to cross my legs, wrap my arms across me and sit tight. I do it when I’m comfortable and I do it when I feel threatened.
In contrast, others may make a beeline for the centre of the room, spread their legs out (boys!!), throw their arms about and generally take up their surroundings with their presence. This confident, alpha behaviour is called power posing and tends to get noticed.
The problem with the way you sit or stand not only affects how others see you but also how confident you feel, which in certain situations can have a genuine impact on the choices you make and the opportunities you get offered. Amy suggests that understanding your own body language and knowing a 2 minute trick to build your confidence can change the way you think and feel. All you have to do is go get your power pose on! Find somewhere quiet and throw your arms in the air for a couple of minutes. Make yourself bigger and feeling more powerful will gradually follow. And if it’s good enough for Oprah…!
If I’m going into a scary situation I tend to calm myself down by breathing slowly. Maybe next time I should be breathing slowly whilst stood in a star position? I found this video interesting (and useful) but be warned, once you’ve watched it you’ll find yourself assessing your body language at several random points a day.
Do you ever notice making yourself smaller in certain situations? Or are you already a power poser? And yes, I did go and stand in a park with my arms in the air, looking like a nutter, just so I had a photo for this post!
Getting into a routine of getting up early everyday is something I’ve flirted with for a while. Last year I got into a routine of getting up every day at 6am and in the process I had to teach myself how to wake up early. I wouldn’t count myself as a night owl or an early bird, but I just like being up first thing. I’m also a bit rubbish at it and really, REALLY love my bed in the morning. That said, I don’t love dragging myself out of it at the last possible moment, sprinting around getting ready, power walking to wherever I’m going and arriving just in the nick of time (not to mention a bit hot and bothered).
1. Make yourself walk to turn your alarm off
The one thing that always makes a difference to whether I get up or I crawl back into bed is where the alarm clock is. If it’s by my bed, I’ve turned it off whilst still spark out and I can happily snooze on. But, if I have to get up, stagger around, start flailing my arms to shut my alarm off, I’ve woken myself up by the time I’ve got to it. The best thing for me is to put it in the hall or even further away so I can’t even see my bed anymore.
2. Start slow
You can read a lot about how the most productive people in the world have done their workout, spent time with their families and got half their working day done by 9am. If you can already hop out of bed and do that then all power to ya (and I’d love to read your tips), but putting yourself under pressure to change your sleep routine, get up at the crack of dawn AND get all of that done in one go can be what makes you feel like bear hugging your duvet and refusing to get out of bed. When I’m adapting to getting up early, I start by going easy on myself. I wake up, make some tea and just watch TV or read something. Once I feel I want to, I’ll go and get ready for the day.
Starting slow also means changing your sleeping pattern gently, by adjusting the time that you wake up by 10 or 15 minutes every day. Nothing too shocking about waking up 15 minutes early now is there (and other such phrases I use to trick myself)?
3. Get enough sleep!
It’s almost too obvious to say it, but if getting up early is exhausting or you find yourself getting tired during the day, try going to bed early. Just as you adjust the time you wake up, you need to adjust what time you go to sleep so you get all the hours of shut eye that you need. I also find that plenty of water throughout the evening helps me to be well hydrated and I’ll have better quality sleep.
Set out everything that you might need when you’re bleary eyed. I put out something to wrap up in and a pair of slippers by my phone so I can substitute my duvet for something cosy to wear as soon as possible. I also set out everything to make tea, so I have a hot drink. Can’t waste a good cuppa by going back to sleep now can I?!
5. Build a routine
Apart from the immediate moments after waking up (where I’m generally enthusiastically telling myself that getting back into bed is a truly excellent idea), I enjoy getting up early. I look forward to the quiet time first thing and I feel a little sense of achievement for the rest of the day. So, I don’t want to go wasting that by watching River Monsters* on repeat. After a few weeks of getting used to the early start (and once I’ve stopped dozing off as soon as I sit down), I start to build a routine including something useful like gentle exercise or writing a blog post. It’s a great time to make a start on all those things that I usually think I don’t have time to do.
So, for 2015, I’m going to make more of an effort to regularly get up early and I’ll see what effect that has. I know it won’t be every day and that’s just fine.
I always LOVE and appreciate your comments. Are you an early bird?
I am chuffed to say that paperbeauty is officially one year old today. It’s been a year of learning a lot of new things, swearing at my laptop (a lot) when I couldn’t work things out and then feeling like an actual genius when I finally did. I’ve made a lot of cocktails, photographed my lunch a fair bit and written about my favourite beauty bits. Sometimes I had the regular blogging thing nailed, other times not so much. I’ve also found lots of great bloggers along the way and I’d like to say thanks to everyone who has read, commented and given me handy tips along the way. You are awesome.
To sum it up, here are some of my favourite things that kept me amused in the last year.
Thanks for reading. 🙂
I’m not going in for lots of new years resolutions this year, mostly because Christmas flew past so fast that I haven’t actually thought about it that much (there, I said it). That and I’m a bit rubbish at keeping resolutions if I have lots of them. So instead, I’ve gathered together some loosely formed ideas of what I learnt in 2014 and what I’d like to get up to in 2015.
Last year my fiance and I made it to New York and Portugal, which was amazing, but I now have itchy feet. In 2015, I’d like to get to more places that I’ve never been. There are too many continents that I have never wandered about on.
Keep my schizz together
This one seems a bit obvious, but actually keeping organised is a huge help in stopping me getting too anxious. I turn into quite the ball of nervy/worrisome/crankiness if I feel like I can’t keep up with everything. I’ve made huge improvements in how organised I am in 2014, mostly by changing my work situation to get better work/life balance. Keeping it up in 2015.
Plan a wedding
I’m engaged (another development from 2014!), have been for eight months and yet any sort of wedding plan has yet to happen. In my mind it’s all going to come together in a week and
Paperbeauty is nearly one year old (ahhhhhh….). I’m chuffed to bits that 1) I started my blog and 2) that I managed to keep it up for a whole year. At the end of 2015, I’d like to be writing that I’m chuffed with how paperbeauty has improved.
2014 – you were very eventful and all in a good way. Hope you have a wonderful new year.
1. Making too much ice cream (all in the name of experimentation)
2. Balancing a constant guilt at not going out enough with a constant urge to schlop about watching Mad Men.
3. My favourite sandals.
4. Seducing Ingrid Bergman. I’m halfway through and it’s quite a light and fluffy read. The author can over do the ‘oh she’s so beautiful’ sections, but I’ve read that the ending makes up for it. I’m keeping an open mind.
5. Trying and failing to learn chess, because that is how Saturday night sometimes rolls. Oh yeh…
6. Actually succeeding at doing some training for the half marathon. Thank you light evenings.
7. A rekindled love for pineapple juice as the most summery drink, despite feeling sick after half a glass. I will keep drinking it!!
8. Trying and failing to learn tennis. Wimbledon is the one time of year where I faithfully try to learn the rules, nail them, then promptly forget them again until next year.
Etsy is like a smörgåsbord of excitement for me, everywhere you look there are beautiful, interesting things that you just don’t bump into that often. Like a spirograph coaster!!
2. Druzy ring
I might not be the biggest football fan in the world, but when there’s any big sporting event I like to get involved. And by involved, I mean I like to have snacks. In honour of the World Cup kicking off this week, I’ve put together my list of Brazilian inspired food and drink. Go England!
This dip was really easy to whip up, just mix together one avocado, two dessert spoons of cream cheese, the juice of half a lemon, and some red chilli (depending how spicy you like it).
This sweet potato salad has a bit of a tangy kick from the vinegar and mustard. Serving it up on a lettuce leaf gets me some of my veg for the day and makes it easier to snack on without all the hooha of cutlery. I’m a lazy snacker. The recipe I tried can be found here.
Brigadeiro are a national treasure in Brazil and are both delicious and really easy to make, if you have enough patience. They are chocolate caramel sweets which are so rich that when I made them I thought there was no chance we’d be able to eat them all. Yep, didn’t need to worry about that. Their texture changes a lot depending on whether they are at room temperature or straight from the fridge. After much testing (I take my recommendations seriously), I prefer the thicker texture of when they are chilled. You can add to the chocolate flavour with lots of decorations, I opted for sprinkles and chopped hazelnuts. I followed the recipe here.
Similar to the brigadeiro, these little sweets are traditionally served at parties. Easy to eat, these are caramelly, coconutty balls of loveliness, which also work well with some lemon and lime rind if that’s your thing.
After making watermelon lemonade, I’ve become a bit fixated on fruity water. I made this pineapple mint water by muddling together mint leaves with a little sugar, adding fresh pineapple juice and topping it up with lots of iced water. Makes me want to sit in a beach bar all afternoon. I’ll make do with my sofa then.
Of course! I couldn’t leave out Brazil’s traditional cocktail now could I? Simple, icy cold and tangy – find the recipe here.
Ok, so the title might be a bold statement, but I’ve been hearing a lot about a mind management theory which is helping high profile people control and maximize their performance. Dr Steve Peters has worked with people like Team GB’s cycling team, Ronnie O’Sullivan and (most importantly) Liverpool FC and whilst he’s not likely to share the secrets of his work with them, he does share his simple theory in his book, The Chimp Paradox: the Mind Management programme for confidence, success and happiness.
The theory goes that our brains are made up of different components which behave (and cause us to behave) in particular ways. Nothing new there, but Dr Peters sets this out in a funny way which is so easy to relate to, it’s easy to see your own brain behaving in the same way.
So lets take a walk around your brain (so to speak):
The Chimp (aka your limbic system): this is the emotional, primal part of your brain responsible for keeping you alive, should you happen to be born in caveman days. It can indepently make decisions for you based on emotional information, feelings and impressions. These might be good or they might be bad. Either way, you rely on your little chimp making good decisions quickly because it thinks much quicker than the human.
The human (aka your dorsolateral prefrontal cortex): this is the civilised part of your brain which is essentially you. You think sensibly and use facts to base your decisions on. You also enjoy having dreams for your future so you think long term.
The Computer: this stores your beliefs, experiences and information which both your chimp and human input into and take information from. Having a well run computer is crucial to controlling that chimp.
Also featuring: gremlins, goblins & auto pilots – ideas or behaviours which are either already within your computer or can be placed there (in both a helpful and unhelpful way). The stone of life also features and is the reference point for all parts of your brain giving a benchmark to your behaviour. Critical to who you are as a person.
Now whilst Dr Peters doesn’t suggest that the chimp is a bad thing all the time, it’s not necessarily built to help you get through modern life. Office politics would certainly go up a notch if we all worked out whose turn it is to make tea by screeching and wrestling.
The chimp is permanently on high alert for danger, looking out for threats and anything that you might need to get the hell away from. When old chimpy does sense danger, it can get aggressive in a bid to protect you. Ever flown into a sweary rage because someone cut you up on the road? There is absolutely no logical benefit to you from that crazy rage and yet you still have this very strong emotional response. Yep, that’s your chimp letting loose.
Feeling blind terror at the thought of a job interview? Thinking it’s probably best to just not turn up? That’s your chimp getting all confused and het up that you might actually die in that interview chair. Clearly unlikely and unhelpful to the logical human you who is trying to chase the long term goal of career success. Your slower thinking and unfortunately less powerful ‘human’ doesn’t get a look in until the chimp has calmed down or tired himself out.
Dr Peter’s mind management programme sets out how you can use strategies for your computer to keep your chimp under control, giving your human a fairer shot at controlling what you’re doing and very importantly, how you are feeling. Even though it has plenty of funny scenarios, which most people will relate to, there is a serious practical purpose to the book. It is a particularly interesting read if you ever lose your temper, worry about what others think, regularly become stressed, beat yourself up about little things…the list goes on. Well worth a read.
I always love to read your comments – let me know if you’ve read this or have tried anything similar. It would be great to know what has helped you!
Image source and more information can be found at: http://chimpmanagement.com/index.html
One: Spill proof travel mug. These travel mugs are virtually spill proof, just push a little button every time you take a sip.
Two: Driving can get messy. Little resealable packs of baby wipes keep well in the car and multi task at cleaning up after food or taking off your make up off. Yes, I take baby wipes everywhere. Plus it’s really irritating to have dry lips and nothing you can do about it. A lip balm like this with you keeps that at bay and no messy fingers.
Three: Water bottle – this is tried and tested and doesn’t spill. We try to pack a bit of a picnic when we’re on a journey to save some money and stop us eating service station junk food.
Four: Comfortable neck pillow and cosy blanket. If you’re lucky enough to have someone else driving on your road trip, then having a blanket and pillows makes getting some rest much more comfortable. This pillow can be turned around to the front to stop your head dropping forwards as you doze off. No more ‘Urgh where am I?!’ moments.
Five: Phone – having a variety of music options can help to keep boredom at bay, particularly as your mood can change on a really long drive. The radio can get you so far but playlists on Spotify and your favourite podcasts give you more options – who doesn’t want hours and hours of ‘Welcome to Nightvale’!?
This week, I had a conversation with one of my friends who comes from Poland, speaks perfect English and was telling me about how they take a French lesson a week, just for fun. This makes me feel fairly ashamed to admit that the only language I can speak is English. It’s not a new source of shame, I get all in a flap when I’m abroad and someone doesn’t speak English. What if they don’t understand my pointing and miming, what if the 5 phrases I repeat don’t get me by?! I need to get a grip, this is embarrassing. But why don’t I speak more languages?
I took a GCSE in German, but I couldn’t have any sort of conversation in it, unless there’s any pressing need for a German person to know I went on holiday to Canada last year (that was the first line of my verbal exam and should actually now be ‘I went on holiday to Canada 12 years ago’. Useful). I always had at the back of my mind that I was rubbish at languages, so I didn’t think there was much point trying that hard. I also don’t remember there being much focus on language at school. I don’t think I’m alone. In general, my British friends speak dramatically fewer languages than those who’ve grown up abroad where practicing a second (third, fourth…?) language is the norm.
Good news for British kids is that from September this year, it’s going to be compulsory for all UK primary school children over 7 to learn another language. Another good bit of news is that I’d always thought it was easier to learn new languages when you’re a child, but, pickthebrain.com claims that all I need is a “child’s willingness to experiment and desire to communicate, without the fear of ridicule”. Ridicule is probably the main thing that intimidates me, what if they don’t understand me and I have to repeat the same mispronounced phrase over and over and OVER AGAIN. But, maybe I should stop focusing on the ridicule part and pay attention to the fact that all I actually need to do is try harder. And actually go to a French class.
I love flying. I love the suspense in the airport, the excitement on the plane, that it almost always leads to an adventure (unless you’re on the way home, even then I still enjoy the trip). I even get excited about the food. As you might know from my last post on our trip to New York, I’ve been on a little plane trip recently so have tried and tested a list of what was useful to have with me on the plane.
We all know how much flying wreaks havoc with your skin. As soon as I get on the plane, I’ll use micellar water in a spray bottle to spritz on cotton pads to remove any make up. This is also great for spraying on your face to refresh it mid flight and for cleansing my skin on the other side. After that, I’ll put a clear, moisturizing leave on mask like Origins Drink Up and leave that to sink into my skin. Origins do a smaller size of this mask which is perfect for hand luggage and feels like it gives your skin a protective barrier as well as nourishing it. I’ll usually reapply it a few times if my skin is particularly thirsty. I’ll also keep hand cream, eye cream and a miniature face cream with me. Fear not if you need moisturiser.
Keep it clean
I don’t really know what it is about planes that you makes you inevitably feel grubby, but they do. To combat that, I’ll always take baby wipes (multitasking saviours in most situations) and hand sanitizer. Carrying deodorant and chewing gum help you to freshen up mid flight and will be your best friend if you arrive at your destination and find your case has gone AWOL. Tissues, a nail file (this crystal file in it’s own carry case is great) and sweets to deal with air pressure drama on the way back down.
I carry a travel pillow, a big jumper, scarf, ear plugs and my favourite eye mask in case I need to sleep, but it’s equally important not to get bored when you’re trapped on the plane for hours on end. To stop boredom, the most important thing is your own (comfortable) headphones for watching films and tv on the plane – I got through a remarkable amount on our flight. I also pre-load our ipad with magazines to save on space in my bag, my phone for music and an actual real life book. just because I love them and you never know when technology/batteries might fail you.
I get a bit compulsive about teeny, tiny little bags to keep all my stuff in. I generally have a couple for different currencies, another to put smaller bits in (headphones, jewellery, passport). I pack a notebook and I am besotted with that little pink pencil case (all pouches are from H&M and the notebook is Paperchase).
The other side
When I reach the other side, I need to make myself look respectable, but I still like to keep it light. The smaller Tangle Teezer comes with a little case to protect the combs and is a great size for hand luggage. For make up, Dr Jart+ Water Fuse BB cream is my current favourite for my oily skin. A miniature Benefit PosieTint gives some life to tired cheeks and lips, Benefit They’re Real makes lashes look amazing without the aid of eyelash curlers and Benefit Gimme Brow grooms and fills your brows to give your face more definition. I hadn’t realised the extent of my reliance on Benefit until I wrote this post… A spritz of my favourite perfume in a Travalo atomiser and I’m ready.
What do you think is essential when you travel?
I was very excited when the lovely Sandy nominated me for a Liebster Award. It’s a nice way to share the support and get to know fellow bloggers who have less than 200 followers. It made my day when Sandy got in touch so I am sharing the love!
Firstly, the rules:
1. You must link back to the person who nominated you.
2. You must answer the 10 questions given by the person who nominated you.
3. You pick 11 nominees with under 200 followers to answer your questions.
4. You cannot nominate the person who nominated you.
5. You must tell the nominees that they have been nominated by you.
So the questions which Sandy asked were…
1.What do you love about yourself?
Big question to start with! I love that I’m very loyal to my group of friends and family and I’ve known a lot of the people I’m close to for a very long time. Is that cheesy? Don’t care, going with it.
2. Who’s your fashion/style icon?
Jessica Alba has a beautiful relaxed style that never looks like she’s tried too hard.
3. Why did you start your blog?
I read tonnes of blogs when I was studying (mainly so I could avoid studying as much as possible (I also had a very clean kitchen). Originally I just enjoyed getting reviews or ideas from other people. I love photography and I love writing, so blogging is a fairly perfect hobby for me.
4. What’s your zodiac sign?
I am a Leo.
5. How often do you wash your hair?
Every two to three days. I try to get away with not washing it for as long as I can. It’s a daily battle.
6. Powder, liquid or cream foundation?
I’ve recently converted back to liquid after discovering my love of Bourjois Healthy Mix. I do still have an ongoing relationship with mineral foundation too. I’m a big fan of Bare Minerals.
7. What song (or band) do you listen to when you want to relax?
Gabrielle Aplin’s voice is amazing but anything by Ludovico Einaudi if I really need to relax.
8. Heels or flats?
I do a lot of walking where I live, so generally flats, but heels if don’t have to move that far!
9. Do you drink at least 8 cups of water per day?
I wish I could say yes, but I’m pretty rubbish at this. I do everything I’m meant to and carry water everywhere. I tend to go through phases of whether I actually drink it or just look at it all day.
10. How many tubes of lipstick do you own? Balms and gloss don’t count.
Really not that many – I’m much more into balms (including Revlon’s Balm Stains which are my all time favourites) and glosses. Last count it was about 12 actual lipsticks.
Now, for my nominees. I’ve based this on bloglovin/GFC. I think I’ve done this right, but if I’ve got confused and you have more than 200 followers and I’ve nominated you, then my bad, but I like your blog!
Amber Naomi at ambernaomi
Cassidy at heartofgoldandglitter
Esther and Grace at The lipstick channel
Shelby at morethanextraordinary
Rhonda at theskinnyarm
Samantha at smart-twenties
Laura at whimsicalnothings
Katelin at kaitlinkonfidential
Divya at peonyandpeach
Ellenor at champagnelifestyleteabudget
Scarlett at glimpsenglimmer
Now, onto the questions for my nominees:
1. What is on your bucket list?
2. What made you start blogging?
3. You can take three beauty products with you to a desert island. What do you take?
4. What’s the last film you saw?
5. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
6. If you could only eat one kind of food (italian, mexican, chinese…) for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?7.
7. Who is your favourite blogger/vlogger?
8. What’s the best advice that you’ve ever received?
9. What’s your favourite book and why?
10. What is your dream job?
11. Have you ever met anyone famous? If yes, who? If no, who would you most want to meet? (I’m giving you options here!)
I’d love to read everyone’s answers if you choose to accept!
Keeping balance is something that I’m struggling with at the moment. This post doesn’t just apply to work life balance, but anything in life where something is out of kilter and is having an impact on everything else. For me, that’s because I’m putting a lot of effort into one part of my life, which means that I’m not getting everything done that makes me feel happy and like I’m accomplishing something. This is very basic for me, like being able to prepare healthy food myself so I don’t eat junk, get some exercise and spend some time with friends and family. I don’t have any children or other responsibilities to mix into the equation and at times like this, I wonder how other people manage to keep so many plates spinning at once.
There are some things that I find can help me to keep things on track. At the moment, a few of these things have slipped, but this is how I normally try to keep things in order.
Meal planning doesn’t mean that I eat everything exactly as I’ve planned it whether I feel like it or not. But it does mean that I do all my food thinking in one go (usually at the weekend), I make sure I have all the food I need for the week and I can switch my brain to auto pilot the rest of the time. I really struggle to think about what I want to eat when I get in from a long or tiring day. All that ‘PIZZA PIZZA PIZZA’ chanting makes it really difficult to think straight. If I have my little list written down, I can pick something off it and know I have everything to make it. I can also usually get myself to spend a 20 minutes preparing for the next day’s lunch so I don’t have cheese, ham and mayo baguettes every day (true story). I try to have healthy convenient snacks in the house as well so if I’m travelling around, I can grab some for my handbag and then won’t buy a KitKat and some toffee waffles when I’m hungry on a train. You may have noticed from this that I have pretty shocking self restraint when I’m hungry.
Equally, doing meal prep at the weekend prompts a bit of exercise planning too. Knowing when I’m due to exercise and making sure I have all my workout clothes ready gives me fewer excuses. This is especially important for early morning workouts when I need to roll out of bed, fall into my workout clothes and get out the door easily. At that point my brain is usually saying ‘but you feel a bit tired, you should get some more sleep. You could be dangerously tired. Stop and get back into bed, this exercise malarky could be DANGEROUS’. Being in control of what I’m eating has a big psychological benefit for me as well as the physical benefits of feeling better if I’m not eating rubbish all day every day. Plus, I cook far more interesting food if I actually think about it in advance.
Sometimes I think I can organise myself to within an inch of my life (which isn’t always a good thing). I seem to be able to sustain this professionally, but I’m less likely to do this at home. My house gets messy and time seems to get away from me, so I suddenly realise at 10pm that I had that really important job to do and now I’m too tired. I try to keep my planner with me all the time so if I’m out and remember something I really have to do that night, I can write it down before I get distracted.
I also try to be proactive and get annoying things done straight away. This might be something like calling my phone company or changing my car insurance. I am pretty epic at putting these things off for ages, until I’ve created a menacing looking Mount Annoyingtasks that seems unsurmountable. If I reach that point then it feels like I’m clawing my way back to being organised. Little and often is key here.
Make more plans!
If I make plans to spend time with my friends and family I am generally very reliable. Short of violent illness or transport breakdown, I can be relied upon to be there. Making plans a little while in advance means I will stick to them and spend time seeing the people that I really want to see. Sometimes it can feel like having an extra few hours to sort things out (tackle Mount Annoyingtasks) would help the world feel a little lighter, but really spending time with the people I enjoy seeing is what will actually make me feel happier and more balanced. I’m not known for being impromptu so making plans even a few weeks makes sure I stick to them.
I hope this post might help me to kick start some of the good habits that have fallen by the wayside recently. But, ultimately I think that sometimes I beat myself up more than I should when it happens. Really, it’s that when I’m organised, I feel happier and calmer, which is even more necessary when other things in life go a bit crazy. I’d love to hear what other people do to stay organised too!
I don’t tend to do anything fancy for Valentines Day, but I hate feeling left out when there’s any sort of event so I always try to make at least a bit of an effort. Here’s a few bit thats I’ll be enjoying this Valentines (no actual romance required).
Cosmos!! Possibly my favourite cocktail of all time, a cosmopolitan’s bright pink colour is practically made for a Valentines theme. That said I will find a reason to argue it’s perfect for pretty much any day of the week…Tuesday you say? Why that’s Cosmo day!
Shake together 35ml vodka, 15ml triple sec, 25ml cranberry juice and a squeeze of lime with ice to enjoy your own.
I couldn’t be happier to find out that Percy Pig has found his girlfriend. Especially as his girlfriend is a delicious lemon cheesecake tasting thing. I will be sad if Penny disappears again after Valentines Day.
What could be more romantic than poker? Probably lots of things, but sometimes it’s nice to also spend time playing some good old fashioned games.
Several of my friends were thoroughly dismayed to find out that I had never seen Four Weddings and a Funeral. Late last year, an intervention took place and my friends sat me down to watch it and even after all the hype created around this British classic, I still thought it was hilarious. It’s a perfect, funny Valentines film which isn’t too mushy (ignoring all that kissing in the rain business).
January is a month where I hibernate. I tend to just hide at home until miserable January is over (I know, I’m a little ray of sunshine at this time of year). I don’t normally have any problems sleeping, but I do have a few things in my night time routine which help.
This Works Deep Sleep pillow spray and stress less
I got these products in a little gift set at Christmas and I’m quite taken with them. I prefer the pillow spray if I had to pick one of the two but with these two it’s the more the merrier so I regularly use the stress less pulse spot roller ball too. They both smell natural and the pillow spray has lavender, vetivert and wild chamomile to lull me off to sleep. The stress less roller ball has eucalyptus, frankincense and lavender and This Works say that it can be used any time of day when you need to unwind. I’m never quite sure whether they actually help me get to sleep any quicker or whether it’s a psychological part of helping me to relax, but either way it’s a part of my routine that I enjoy.
Bahoma London Wild Lavender and Cedarwood candle
More lavender! I might attach more importance to this than I think but I like to burn this candle in the evenings before I go to sleep. This candle doesn’t burn down particularly evenly which I find slightly disappointing, but after about 20 minutes it fragrances the room nicely. The cedarwood also helps to balance the lavender and stops it feeling too overpowering.
Holistic Silk eye mask
This eye mask is just beautiful. It’s British made, with pure silk on one side and dark velvet on the other. Holistic Silk claims that it simulates complete darkness to help you sleep and that it’s proven to reduce the formation of wrinkles, woohoo! I haven’t yet trained myself to sleep through the whole night with it on yet, but I reckon that it will be like second nature in summer and will help block some of the early morning light. Plus, I love a nap. Anything that helps me nap is a winner.
Clipper Sleep Easy tea
This sleep easy tea, or night time tea as it’s more commonly known in my house, isn’t to everyone’s taste but I love it. It’s a good warming tea, particularly in winter with cinnamon, chamomile and valerian.
I’m going to try and keep this quite short and sweet, but I can’t let this week pass without making a few resolutions. I love Christmas and New Year and whilst I stay firmly in the festive spirit until twelfth night and all the mince pies have been eaten, I do slowly start to think about returning to normality and my resolutions for the year ahead.
1. Keep adjusting and look after myself. This covers all the usual stuff which no New Years Resolution list should be without. Do more exercise, because when I look back, I generally seem to feel better about myself when I exercise regularly. Eating better, which is heavily linked to resolution number four about getting organised and planning my meals. Finally, is keep a bit of balance in life so that I focus more on the things that make me happy and less on the things that make me worry.
2. Use my spare time wisely. Instead of wasting my spare time, I want to add some focus to it.
– Reading 12 books in 1 year. Not too ambitious, but beats the 1 book in 12 months in 2013.
– Watching a new film a week (including more documentaries like Blackfish, which completely gripped me this year). This encourages a few more cinema trips too.
– Finally catch up on some TV series that I am way behind on (West Wing, House, Greys Anatomy, Breaking Bad, Prison Break, 24, I’m looking at you).
– Improve my skills. This means knitting, so by the time I’m 80, I will be an absolute whizz. Also piano, because I have wanted to be able to play since I was 8 and never quite got the hang of it/tried that hard.
– Take more trips – these don’t have to be far. A day trip to Cornwall will do me nicely, just do it more often.
– Improve my photography and practice it here!
3. Organise myself and save some money. So obvious but this is one of the big things that keeps me calm. I’m naturally a planner and keeping that in check seems to allow me to enjoy the other things that keep me happy. Even though I’m good at this, I’m easily distracted so as much as I’m focusing on having a hoot in my spare time, I also need to keep doing this.
Happy New Year!